Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Explaining evil?

‘What the gospels offer is not a philosophical explanation of evil, what it is or why it’s there, nor a set of suggestions for how we might adjust our lifestyles somewhat so that evil will mysteriously disappear from the world, but the story of an event in which the living God deals with it.’

- N. T. Wright, Evil and the Justice of God, 58

‘The question of why evil exists is not a theological question, for it assumes that it is possible to go behind the existence forced upon us as sinners. If we could answer it then we would not be sinners. We could make something else responsible. Therefore the ‘question of why’ can always only be answered with the ‘that’, which burdens man completely.
'The theological question does not arise about the origin of evil but about the real overcoming of evil on the Cross; it asks for the forgiveness of guilt, for the reconciliation of the fallen world.’

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Temptation, 77

[DB image in public domain (to the best of my knowledge)]

8 comments:

The Borg said...

I'm not saying it doesn't, but I'm wondering how

We could make something else responsible.

follows from:

If we could answer it then we would not be sinners.

CraigS said...

Agree with Shiloh.

If we could answer it then we would not be sinners. seems a non-sequitir to me...

byron said...

'If you offer an analysis of evil which leaves us saying, ‘Well that’s all right then, we now see how it happens and what to do about it’, you have belittled the problem. … We cannot and must not soften the blow; we cannot and must not pretend that evil isn’t that bad after all. … the problem is how to understand and celebrate the goodness and God-givenness of creation and how, at the same time, to understand and face up to the reality and seriousness of evil. It is easy to ‘solve’ the problem by watering down one side of this or the other, either saying that the world isn’t really God’s good creation or that evil isn’t really that bad after all.' Wright, Evil & the Justice of God, 20.

If we can describe why and how evil came to invade God's good creation, if we can give a rational, logical reason for it, then it becomes rational and logical. If it is rational and logical and perhaps even necessary to make the world a better place (e.g. through securing the conditions of possibility for free will), then why blame us for what was in the end, a good thing? Evil becomes tamed, and we let off the hook.

The Borg said...

Thanks for the explanation Byron. It really is quite profound.

michael jensen said...

Hey, I just wrote a review for Southern Cross on Wright's book. You shoulda done it!

byron said...

Ah you're the culprit. I heard a rumour that someone was writing on that book.

michael jensen said...

yeah, they only gave me 400 words, so I don't say very much alas

byron said...

For those interested in MPJ's review, here is his draft.